June 2017

June 2017


Jury Awards $217.7 Million to Kansas Corn Farmers in First Syngenta Trial

The jury returned a big verdict against Syngenta on June 23 in the first trial of the massive Syngenta GMO litigation. This case was presented on behalf of a class of more than 7,000 Kansas corn producers, specifically those Kansas producers who priced corn for sale after November 18, 2013, and who did not purchase Viptera or Duracade corn seed. Any Kansas producers who met that definition and did not affirmatively opt out of the class were automatically part of this action.

After a relatively short deliberation, the jury determined that Syngenta was negligent in the timing, scope, and manner in which it commercialized its Viptera and Duracade GMO corn, specifically by selling it before receiving import approval from China. The jury determined that China's rejection of the corn was not a superseding cause of the plaintiffs' damages. The jury assessed $217.7 million in compensatory damages against Syngenta, which was the amount the Kansas class requested. The jury chose not to award punitive damages, finding that Syngenta did not act in a "wanton" manner (with reckless disregard to the probable consequences) toward the producers.

Continue reading here.


Tax Implications of a Farmland Lease Fact Sheet

The decision to lease farm ground comes with many choices: cash rent, crop share, or some combination thereof. Parties to a lease must understand that each option has distinct income tax implications. We've prepared a fact sheet to provide a brief overview of several key tax considerations associated with farmland leases, as they apply to individual landowners. We will post a more comprehensive review of this topic in the next couple of months.

Cash Rent Lease

Under a cash rent lease, the farm tenant generally pays a cash sum (usually on a per acre basis) to the landlord for the privilege of renting the farm ground. Rent received by a landlord under a typical cash rent lease is rental income, not subject to self-employment tax. This means also that the income will not be credited as net earnings from self-employment for social security eligibility purposes. Individual cash rent landlords report their rental income on Schedule E, IRS Form 1040.

Continue reading here.


Senate Republicans Unveil Draft of Bill to Replace Affordable Care Act

On June 22, 2017, Senate Republican leaders unveiled a “discussion draft” of their bill to replace many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As with the American Health Care Act of 2017 that passed the House on May 4, 2017, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) is designed to stay within the constraints of the budget reconciliation process. As such, the bill could pass with the approval of only 50 Republican Senators (the Vice President could cast the tie-breaking vote). It also means that the BCRA cannot include provisions that do not change the level of spending, revenues, or the debt limit. In other words, the provisions have to be budget related, and they cannot increase the deficit for any period beyond the budget reconciliation period (usually 10 years). These restrictions greatly limit the extent to which the bill can actually “repeal and replace” the ACA.

Nonetheless, the BCRA would significantly change much of the ACA. Although it is quite similar to the House Bill, there are differences, perhaps most notably those provisions related to premium tax credits. If the BCRA were to pass the Senate, those differences would be worked out in committee. The CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation released their scoring of the legislation on June 26. It appears that any vote on this bill will not come before the Senate until after the July 4 recess. More amendments may be issued Friday.

Continue reading about the tax provisions in this bill here.

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CALT does not provide legal advice. Any information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal services from a competent professional. CALT's work is supported by fee-based seminars and generous private gifts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material contained on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Iowa State University.

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